Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010
By Tracey Myers
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford wasn't sure how he did it, really.
Following his first victory of the season against Buffalo on Monday, a game that certainly didn't look like it would end up in the Blackhawks' favor at the start, the backup netminder was asked how he settled himself down after getting down 2-0 within the first three minutes.
"I don't know," he said. "I just kept battling and just tried to keep playing my game."
Why did battling work for Crawford? Because he's had to do it so much over these past few seasons, that's why. He's gone through a few "auditions" to be one of the Blackhawks' two goaltenders, but he kept coming up just short. So he kept working, improving. Battling. And this season, Crawford earned that spot that had eluded him the past few seasons.
So he had a choice. He could've caved under the pressure of an early deficit (despite the fact that he wasn't the only problem through those first few minutes. His fellow Blackhawk teammates all looked like they were still operating on CST) or he could take a deep breath and remember why he was here.
Because he earned it.
Crawford got solid. He squared up. He kept his game simple. Basically, he did everything he said he wanted to do at that morning's skate and it worked. And 32 stops later, Crawford was collecting victory No. 1 as Blackhawks goalie No. 2.
Now keep in mind that Crawford nearly didn't get the chance to regroup, at least in this game. Coach Joel Quenneville admitted that the Blackhawks' rocky start nearly prompted him to take a time out to calm his team down and he also thought about pulling Crawford. In watching the first few minutes, I wouldn't have blamed Quenneville for doing eitherboth. In hindsight, it was a great decision to do nothing.
Crawford needed to work through that, because bad days, bad periods, bad goals are going to happen. It's the nature of the job. Now if things would've gotten worse, if the Sabres goals would've kept coming, then the early yank may have been unavoidable.
But he didn't get worse, he got better. He allowed only one more the rest of the way and made some big stops down the stretch, especially in that final minute when the Sabres were on a 6 on 4 (empty net and Blackhawks delay of game).
Maybe we shouldn't have been surprised by Crawford's rebound on Monday night. He's had the try-try-again mentality his entire young career in the Blackhawks' organization and it really paid off this season.
Yes, Monday was just one game, but it led to great results for all involved. The Blackhawks got their first victory of the season. Crawford got his first victory of the year and, you would think, a big boost of confidence. The tests will keep coming for Crawford, who will probably play at least 20-25 games this season.
So far, so good.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.